Orroroo Water Quality | SPEECH


Mr VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN ( Stuart ) ( 15:41 ): I rise to speak about the challenges with regard to water quality in the Orroroo community. As this house knows, water quality is a very serious issue and a big challenge in many parts of the electorate I represent, particularly many outback areas. Also in the southern Flinders Ranges there are at least half a dozen towns which receive very poor quality water directly from SA Water and pay the same price as for high-quality drinking water that is received in Adelaide and many other places. 

Today, I focus on the community of Orroroo, which has very bad water reticulated throughout the township, so much so that many household appliances cannot use this water because they become inoperable in just a year, in some cases. It is not possible, in many cases to have enough rainwater, whether it be because of the cost of storage or, very often, a lack of rainfall, to survive on rainwater. It is extremely expensive and disheartening for these people to pay for such poor quality water and pay full tote odds as other people do. 

The community, and the council, have been very proactive looking for a wide range of innovative solutions. They have engaged with the government. They have engaged with the Minister for Water. They have engaged with the Premier. They have engaged with SA Water, and they have engaged with ESCOSA. I would like to read a very short passage from ESCOSA’s recently released SA Water Regulatory Determination 2016 which states: 

…SA Water may well identify that Orroroo is the highest priority. In that circumstance, it would be prudent and efficient for SA Water to spend the allowed $10 million to complete the Orroroo upgrade during the RD16 period. 

There is a $10 million allowance for SA Water to use if it chooses, as ESCOSA seems to be strongly encouraging them to do. I mentioned that the council has been looking at every single option. Let me take the house back to the government’s 2009 community cabinet in Port Augusta, where a meeting was held. At that meeting, one of the issues discussed (I was not there, but I am reliably informed) was a very similar issue to one in Hawker. At the time, Hawker had a pilot desalination plant, and at that meeting the Orroroo community was promised the pilot desalination plant when it was no longer needed at Hawker. Unfortunately, that promise was never fulfilled. 

If we move through a range of other possibilities that have been looked at, we come to what now seems to be a very appropriate solution, that is, a pipeline between Orroroo and the SA Water pipeline that supplies the community of Peterborough, approximately 35 kilometres away. I am told by the CEO of the Orroroo-Carrieton council that that solution would cost approximately $12.5 million to $13 million to implement. For the Orroroo-Carrieton council, which I believe is the smallest council in the state by ratepayer income, that is completely and understandably beyond their grasp, but it is well within the state government’s grasp, given that it appears there is $10 million available. 

That would only leave $3 million for the state government to contribute towards this problem. That would give potable River Murray water to this community, so that local households and businesses can survive. I call on the government to do everything possible to put this solution in place. I call on SA Water to do everything possible to put this solution in place. It seems that there would be a relatively low cost to government over and above money that is already available for this purpose to solve this very long-term problem. 

It is completely unacceptable for this community’s households and businesses to be paying the same price that is paid everywhere else for sparkling, clear, healthy River Murray water for very poor quality water, with such high salt and other mineral content that it erodes pipes and all sorts of household fittings. There would also, no doubt, have to be a saving to SA Water. I have seen firsthand the pipes and appliances that are pulled out of houses in Orroroo. Similar damage must be being done to the SA Water-owned and operated reticulation system in the district, too. No doubt, they could save themselves an enormous amount of future cost if they made this investment.